The Digital Home Magazine

Smart tech reviews, how-to's and more

What is the Google Home Hub?

Google's home devices (Home, Home Mini, Home Max) are basically nothing more than speakers that are equipped with the Google Assistant and can be controlled with your voice. The Home Hub is the first family member to also have a display. So, he can not only play music and answer questions, he can also display photo albums or play YouTube videos. The Home Hub can also be operated by touch.

The Home Hub is available in four different colours. The base and the display border can be black, grey, turquoise or pink. The relatively wide display is less noticeable than expected. The Home Hub is inconspicuous enough to fit into most households, but depending on the choice of colour, it can also be deliberately staged.

Although the Home Hub supports Google's video chat service Duo, no camera is installed. It is enough that Google is constantly listening. This can at least be deactivated with the switch behind the display.

The Home Hub is set up in a few minutes. Connect to the power supply, pull out your mobile phone, download the Google Home app and complete the installation process. Then the device is at the mercy of your verbal attacks. Simply call “Hey Google” or “OK Google”, followed by a request, and the little device will set itself up. The integrated Google Assistant works the same as on the smartphone and can do almost the same tricks.

Music, podcasts, audio books, etc. are then just a voice command away. The speakers produce great sound and are amazingly loud. The device has volume buttons, but of course this is also regulated more elegantly by voice.

The display can show various things such as calendar, weather, the time or photos. From the Google Photos Cloud, you can choose which photos, albums, or people to display. There is also a highlight option that automatically selects the best current images. If you do not know where or when a picture was taken, you can ask Google and you will get an answer. Depending on which display options you have chosen.

Other people in the same household can also use the Home Hub and display their photos on it. Alternatively, guest access with restricted rights is also possible.

The broadcast function is also useful. This requires at least two home devices. This allows you to send a voice message to the other devices from your smartphone or one of the home devices. So, if you live on several floors or in a big house, you can, for example, call for dinner without having to shout.

In addition to the tricks already mentioned, the Home Hub is also a kitchen aid, the Home Hub can show you a recipe step by step or read it out loud. You can jump forwards or backwards by voice. Since the offer is limited to cooking sites like All Recipes or The Food Network.

The Home Hub can also control Philips Hue lights. The setup also works here via the Home app.

Although the Home Hub can be controlled completely by voice, you can also navigate as usual using touch controls. A swipe from top to bottom brings up the menu with other connected devices in the household. Swiping from the left edge will reveal a large clock. By swiping from bottom to top, settings such as volume, brightness and settings are displayed. With a swipe from the right edge you finally get to further content such as videos, music, calendar, weather etc. You can also play a YouTube video or start a new playlist in this way. For this you would have to place the device somewhere where you can use it easily without bending down.

What is the Samsung SmartThings Hub?

Network your own home so that almost everything can be checked and controlled while on the go? That sounds like an overly complex project. However, with the SmartThings system from Samsung, it can easily be turned into reality. Especially because many products from other manufacturers can be integrated. This is possible because SmartThings supports almost all radio standards there are: Bluetooth, ZigBee and Z-Wave.

The term smart home sounds ground-breaking and useful for some, but complicated and expensive for others. But what exactly is behind it? For most, it means stepping into a comfortable and secure future. Especially when automations are linked together. SmartThings promises a smart home system that not only allows connections within the manufacturer but is also open to other products from other brands.

Turned off water? Door closed? Accidentally left the light on. Is someone moving around in the apartment even though nobody should be at home? Are the children back in time? With the SmartThings sensors, everything can be checked for correctness very quickly. But the system can do even more. For example, if one of the Samsung sensors registers a movement, a message is sent immediately, while an integrated camera switches on automatically and starts video recording. The SmartThings system can be configured via the settings in such a way that privacy is not violated. According to the manufacturer, the system should be able to differentiate between undesired and normal movements.

What functions does the Samsung SmartThings system offer?

The Samsung SmartThings system is based on a hub as an intelligent control centre, with which various components can be linked. The Samsung gateway supports the following radio standards: Zigbee, Bluetooth and Z-Wave. Therefore, there is a high degree of system openness and numerous cross-manufacturer devices are compatible with Samsung Smart Things.

Once integrated, checking of temperature, electric locks and light is possible. If you want, you can set a corresponding warning tone for opening doors and windows and use the system as an alarm system. Whether on vacation or elsewhere, users can use the SmartThings system to deter burglars and, for example, simulate presence.

As a further alternative use, a notification can be sent when the laundry is ready. The lights inform about new followers on Twitter or adapt to the movements of the user in the house.

A typical simplification of everyday life is the control by voice. The open system from Samsung is also evident here: SmartThings can not only be operated using Samsung's Bixby voice assistant, but also with Alexa or Google Assistant.

Installation and configuration of the Samsung SmartThings system

To be a smart home system build based on Samsung Smart Things, a hub is needed. This serves as an intelligent control centre. In addition to the conventional Hub V3, Samsung offers a Wi-Fi hub that not only functions as a bridge, but also as a mesh router.

The installation and setup of SmartThings works without any problems and new components were automatically added when scanning via the SmartThings app (Android | iOS ). If the various Smart Home components are integrated via a mobile phone, they can also be viewed on a current Samsung TV. Some Samsung TVs also have the SmartThings hub integrated. Anyone who owns one no longer needs to buy the SmartThings Gateway separately. The possibility that several people can be selected as members in the app is particularly positive. Smart home control is equally possible for all family members or roommates. Examples of SmartThings components that can be included in the system:

  • Intelligent adapter plugs that also make conventional electrical devices smart
  • Sensors for movement and presence
  • Window and door contact Sensor that registers open doors and windows, as well as temperature and vibration
  • Water damage sensor, detects water damage at an early stage and measures temperature


The Google Home Hub is especially useful and reliable. You can use it to play music, ask it stupid questions, or have the news read to you. The sound quality of the loudspeaker is surprisingly good for its size and the voice control works extremely reliably and quickly.

The only thing that must be criticised is the display, which is a bit too small for a picture frame, depending on the location. Certain functional restrictions, such as the fact that you can only play podcasts via Google's podcast app, but not via podcasts, are annoying. However, anyone who has already zeroed in on Google and has other smart home devices in use will not be disappointed.

The biggest advantage of the Samsung SmartThings system is the great openness with devices from other manufacturers. Compared to a closed system, there is no need to choose a specific manufacturer. People who already have a smart home system can integrate SmartThings without any problems, because almost all wireless standards are supported and there is a wide range of compatibility. If a smart home system is not yet available, the openness allows a mixture of SmartThings and smart home components from third-party providers.

When it comes to security, the sensitive reaction to movements is helpful, for example to be warned of intruders in good time. The window and door contact sensors offer a quick security upgrade for the home in simple steps. The combination of sensors and the heating control helps to save energy and is a practical modernization measure. The intelligent socket also helps to save energy, because a consumption overview via an app identifies power guzzlers. Operation via app or voice control is not only convenient, but also advantageous for people with limited mobility.

The water damage sensor reacts as sensitively as the window and door contact and provides security in a different way. If, for example, unwanted water runs out of the washing machine, users are informed promptly, even when they are absent, and can take appropriate measures.

Both systems are technologically advanced and have many advantages. Ultimately it is down to the user which system is your preference. SmartThings is t it is easier to use and set up. However, Google home hub has the advantage as it comes in various different hub forms which is easier to set up around the house or apartment.